Jury: Payne guilty

Published 10:39 am Monday, March 19, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
After three days of testimony, a jury took just more than an hour to find a former Escambia County teacher guilty Thursday of three sex crimes against a former student at the school where he tought.
Victor Labaron Payne, a former science and physical education teacher at Escambia County Middle School, was convicted of second-degree rape, sexual abuse and enticing a minor for immoral purposes.
The charges stemmed from accusations by a former student at the school where Payne was employed. According to the charges, the incidents began when the victim was a fifth-grade student.
Early in the testimony, the prosecution played a taped recording of Payne's confession to officers on the day of his arrest. In the taped interview, Payne admitted to having sexual contact with the victim on one occasion and admitted to sexual intercourse with the victim on a separate occasion.
Defense attorney Armardo Pitters suggested Payne only admitted to the crime because he thought investigators would release him if he did.
In his taped confession, Payne admitted to being &#8220caught” masturbating by the victim in the concession stand area of the gym at Escambia County Middle School.
Payne admitted to one incident of sexual intercourse with the victim, but the victim testified that she had sex with Payne on more than 30 occasions during her time at ECMS.
While on the stand, the victim also identified four pairs of underwear belonging to Payne that had been collected after Payne was arrested in October 2004.
During the trial, former school officials said they had held meetings about an alleged relationship between Payne and the student.
Former assistant principal Mona Simmons testified that she took notes at one of the meetings and submitted her report to Herbert Payne - the principal of the school at the time and also Victor Payne's uncle.
Kirkland said Herbert Payne testified that no record of the meeting was taken.
During her testimony, the victim revealed details on when the encounters occurred.
A second witness, who also has a case pending against Payne with similar allegations, took the stand and testified along the same line of questioning.
After the verdict, Pitters asked the judge to allow a bond to be set so that the defendant could be released to his family until sentencing could be held.
Byrne denied the request because the law disallows bond in these type cases.
Sentencing in the case was set for May 23 at 9 a.m. Each of the three charges against Payne are classified as Class B felonies, which carry a possible sentence of at least two years but not more than 20 years.
Two other cases involving two other middle school girls remain pending against Payne.

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